People in western European countries do not have sufficient information about the terrors of Stalinist dictatorships in central Europe, State Secretary Bence Retvari said at a ceremony marking the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism on Tuesday.
“Youth growing up in western Europe should learn what it means to be a victim of Communism,” the official said in front of Budapest’s House of Terror Museum.
“If we do not tell them, nobody else will,” Retvari said, adding that preserving collective memories was not only a responsibility for each EU member state but an obligation for the whole community, too.
Retvari said that respect for Hungary in western Europe and America was largely thanks to the people who had had the courage to stand up against Nazi and Stalinist dictatorships.
“They have defended our honour and made it possible for us to stand here today and mark the European day of remembrance, created on a Hungarian-Polish-Lithuanian initiative,” he said.
Retvari said there is “little difference” between “national and international Socialism”; one is based on racial, while the other on social discrimination, but “both involve the same destruction, and a basic characteristic for both is inhumanity”.
“Both deny the fundamental rights of citizens, their right to life,” he added.
Speaking at the ceremony, programme director of the museum Gabor Tallai said that while Europe had learnt the history of Nazism and “learnt its bitter lessons … it often turns a deaf ear to the facts of Communist dictatorship”.
“It is time we told our story, and it is time the other peoples of Europe listened carefully. This will do us justice,” Tallai said.
In a statement issued after the commemoration, the opposition Socialist Party criticised the speakers, insisting that the event had been used for government propaganda.
The document, signed by deputy leader of the party Andras Balogh, said that the speeches were aimed at mixing up Nazism and Communism. Identifying the two kinds of dictatorship is “extremely strange of a government that makes critical remarks of the western world each day and admires Communist-led China,” Balogh said in his statement.
August 23 was the date of the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, when Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany divided Eastern Europe between them.